New Server Part 1: The new Server OS (Ubuntu) and Virtual Box

I recently upgraded to another new-to-me (i.e. used) computer.  My philosophy has been to, as a rule, buy decent quality used or reconditioned computer gear for some time.  This means I can get a decent box at a price much better than new.  Given that our computers rarely wear out before succumbing to general abuse or being passed on (and then succumbing to general abuse…), this policy has served us reasonably well thus far.

This latest acquisition was a bit larger than usual.  The kids (and I) wanted to run a dedicated Minecraft server.  I tried a virtual machine on my desktop and it worked reasonably well for the three of us, but would occasionally lag.  I moved it on to an old Dell Optiplex GX60.  I had to add a network card as the one on the motherboard was not working ($8), as well as maxing out the memory (2GB, $8).  Unfortunately the machine itself was not able to keep up with more than two players.  Given that I intend to have at least two servers up, and may wind up hosting the local middle school Minecraft Club, this was an issue.

I wound up purchasing a Dell Poweredge 2900 locally on eBay for $66.  No, that’s not a typo.  Although advertised with 4GB of memory and 73GB and 146GB drives, the listing was incorrect.  The server came with 8 gigs, 2 73gb drives in a RAID, and 3 146GB drives in another array. The latter needed reseated before they came up, but they’ve been working reliably since.  Did I mention $66? The 2900 also comes with dual processors… Those are dual-quadcore processors.  It’s also got all sorts of cool server goodies like redundant, hot- swappable power supplies, hardware RAID through BIOs, hot-swappable HDDs, and exessive memory capacity.  The best part is that there are lots of parts available inexpensively.  I get the feeling that there are a lot of these still running in commercial application.  I scored 32GB of memory for 29.99, for example, and used drives are less than $20.

The one issue is that the machine is huge.  Dell calls the form-factor a “tower” but in truth it seems to me more like an old mini-computer than anything. It also weighs in at a hefty 80 pounds or so.  (Amazon lists a shipping weight of 100, so I’m guessing 80. It’s heavy!)

All in all though, I’m very pleased with the purchase. I don’t see it replacing my desktop, and certainly not my laptop of tablet, but I am going to move all of the existing e4g servers off of my Raspberry Pi.

Next: Basic Configuration

Echo4Golf Clear!

Yet more technology

So. I bought a server. Wait: is too much. Let me sum up.

Son got daughter and me playing Minecraft.
Son wanted a server of his own to play on.
Dad: “No problem.”
Server 1 was a virtual machine on my desktop.
Server 2 was an old Dell tower
Server 3 is a Dell Poweredge 2900 server class machine.

In the immediate future, look forward to a series on transitioning my sites and services from the Raspberry Pi to the Dell.

Echo4Golf Clear

Desecration of our Flag


A note to all of my friends sharing the US Code (link above has a decent history of the code)  as it relates to desecration of the National Colors: the code was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1990. The Court argued that burning the flag was an act of free speech protected by the first amendment of the Constitution. You’re more than welcome to disagree. Heaven knows I hate seeing the Colors treated inappropriately! But consider this: the very system that you claim to support has created this decision.

It’s not *your* country. It’s *ours.* And I’m sick to death of small minds on both sides of the aisle trying to bring it down.

How about we stop with the indignation and the invitations to love it or leave it? How about we stop looking for things to hate and find things to love?

Echo4Golf Clear


So many projects, so little time…

Just that.

I hope this post finds everyone well. I just realized that I have three posts started, another two in the planning stages, and several other projects happening at once. When did this happen? Stay tuned for more on the Raspberry Pi changeover, a potential Minecraft server for my son, shaving related posts and, as I get the shop back up to speed, posts about Echo4Golf Woodworking and my pens and other wood projects.

Echo4Golf Clear

Raspberry Pi Redux- Setup and Basic Configuration of the R-Pi V2.

As noted in a previous post, and this blog are self-hosted. They run on a Raspberry Pi Linux based computer. If you’re not familiar with the Raspberry PI, check out the history of the Raspberry Pi foundation at the Raspberry Pi Foundation web site. Basically, it’s a complete linux-based computer system on a card about the size of a Altoids tin. A new Pi runs less than $50 shipped, and all the user needs to do is add an SD card, hook it up to an HDMI capable TV, plug it in to a cell phone charger and go! OK, it might be a bit more complicated than that. New users or those unfamiliar with Linux will want to read up on the process from the numerous sources available. But the Pi is a very useful little device. Furthermore, the latest version, the Raspberry Pi V2.0 has twice the memory and runs about six time faster than the original. The author has procured a v2 Pi, and this article is the first in a series describing the migration of the e4g servers from the original to the new PI, as well as some basic changes to stabilize the server configuration prior to the migration.

The author’s new Pi came from eBay seller PhotoDeals, who were not only offering the best price from a US based vendor, but had the unit in stock. The RPi2 is still new enough that it can be challenging to find. The vendor shipped quickly, and the unit arrived within three days.  Not bad considering it was ordered on a Friday!  The unit cost $49.99 with free shipping. As of this writing, the price has been reduced to $44.99.

As a bit of a side note, careful shopping on eBay will yield some great buys on the original RPi. Be careful though. It appears that a lot of vendors aren’t clear on the differences and are selling the original as RPi V2. The difference between the two is significant and the older slower ones should be dropping in price, one would think. PhotoDeals has the older model for about $35.

The new unit is pretty much the same form factor as the original Model B Pi.  It won’t use the same case, however as there are four USB ports instead of two.  Additionally, migrating the system is not as simple as moving a drive and installing new drivers.  The original Raspberry Pi uses a standard SD card as a boot drive and for storage.  The new Pi v2 uses a micro-SD.  Although the card-based system is acceptable for many users, those who intend to utilize databases (by installing WordPress or OwnCloud, for example) would do well to migrate the operating system to an external drive before discovering how easily they can be corrupted on an SD card. Yes, that’s the voice of experience! Before we get that far, however, some basic configuration is in order.

You’ll want to get your Pi out of the box and remove packing materials. For this stage of the operation a keyboard and monitor or TV with an HDMI port is necessary. Once the system is set up, you’ll be able to run it remotely via an SSH connection.

The first step in configuring a Raspberry Pi is the creation of the bootable SD card. There are all sorts of instructions online but, following the KISS principle, the author chose to install NOOBS (New Out of Box Software).

The alternative is not all that challenging, and merely involves getting the image for a chosen operating system and writing it the the card.  “Official” Images are available at There is the Debian based “Raspian,” a Fedora based “Pidora,” a couple of media center setups, and RISC OS (about which your author knows nothing except it’s not Linux, Windows, or Mac-based). Should you choose to go that route, instructions are freely available from many sites.  Basically though: get the image, unzip it, use SDFormatter from the SD Association ( as of this writing) to format your card, write the image with Disk Imager ( from Source Forge, insert the card, and start the Pi by plugging it in…

Setting up NOOBS is simpler.  Download it from  Unzip it. Copy the files to the root of the card. Start the Pi. Done. If you have problems, run the SD Fomatter above, with the size correction setting enabled. Then restart the card again.

Once you’ve start the Pi, you’ll see a list of the operating systems available.  The author uses the Debian-based Raspian. In any case, check the box for the operating system of your choice and grab a cup of coffee or a beer while the OS installs.

As the install completes, the system will run the Raspi-Config utility.  There’s not a lot that you have to do here but you should set all three of the “Internationalisation Options.”  Among other things, this will avoid issues with your keyboard and, later on, with the SSSL Certificate system.

  • Select number 4. “Internationalisation Options.” and then I1, “Change Locale.” Select as appropriate. The author selected all three “en_us” options with utf-8 as the default.
  • Select 4 again and this time choose I2 “Change Timezone.” The list is alphabetical and US is at the bottom.  After that you’ll be able to select the specific timezone appropriate to your locale.
  • Once more, select 4 and, last but not least, choose I3 to change the keyboard layout.  There are specific keyboards listed but the author uses “Generic 101-key PC.”

A couple of other things that you might want to consider, while you’re in Raspi-Config, are enabling the SSH server for remote or “headless” access, if you don’t leave the Pi attached to a monitor and keyboard, and setting a network host name.

To enable the SSH server, select 8, “Advanced Options,” and then A4 “SSH.”  You’ll see a screen asking if you wish to enable the server.  Select yes and hit return. You’ll see another screen telling you that the server is enabled. Select OK and you will be taken back to the menu.

To set a host name instead of the default, select 8 again, and then A2 “Host Name.” Pay attention to the naming requirements as the utility will not tell you if you use an incorrect name.  Underscores (_), for example, are not valid, however dashes (-) are.

Once you’ve completed the configuration, select “Finish” and allow the system to reboot. Don’t disconnect it from the monitor and keyboard just yet, however, as the next step is to set up the Pi to run from an external hard drive, rather than the SD card.

Reboot the system and then we’ll look at moving the root to a hard drive.

Echo4Golf clear.

Shaving with a Rolls Razor

Note: The author is posting this one early. It still needs edited (and most likely proof-read) but there seem to be some first Rolls shaves coming up and the author hopes this will help!

In past articles we have hunted for a Rolls, refurbished it, sharpened the blade until it’s perfect, and now you’re ready to give it a test run.  In this article, the author will detail his shaving routine as modified for the Rolls.  In truth there aren’t a lot of modifications to your routine or technique required and a Rolls shave takes little more time than any other. Further, shaving with the Rolls is a rewarding experience, if you’re into that sort of thing. The author certainly is and has found that the Rolls Razor yields a marvelously close, irritation free, near baby’s butt smooth shave every time. The author’s shaves are part of his morning routine which includes the Marine Corps’ traditional three S’s.  The entire routine takes about thirty minutes, maybe forty-five on a slow or especially luxurious day. As a general rule, the author finds the time well spent as it helps get on track and stay focused on the day.

The thing to remember with the Rolls is that while it’s referred to as a “straight on a stick” and the shaving angle should be chosen with that in mind, and while it looks somewhat intimidating when mounted up and ready to go, it’s actually a great shaver in its own right.


The author begins each shave with either a hot shower or hot water on a face cloth. Truth to tell, there’s not a lot of difference in shave quality between the two but, of course, your mileage may vary. Either way, hot water and soap are applied and rinsed and the author does not dry his face after either.  The hot water is followed by pre-shave oil (PSO) on wet hands, applied to a wet face.  The amount varies based upon viscosity, but generally the oil is completely absorbed by the time the cream or soap is applied.

While the PSO is working, the author gives the blade a good stropping, generally about a minute at the rate of about two complete passes per second.  Once the blade is stropped, remove it from the case and mount it on the handle. It’s ready to go.  Some sources recommend heating in your shaving water but the author has not found significant advantage from this action. Feel free though! You’re not going to hurt anything.

With the blade ready to go, mix up the lather of your choice and lather up!

Your First Rolls Pass

Once you’re lathered up begin your shave.  The angle is the most crucial part.  Start with the blade almost flat on your face and then increase the shave angle until you feel the razor start to cut your beard.  Hold your angle there and at that point make a complete pass with the grain of your beard. No pressure should be necessary. Let the razor do the work. At the conclusion of the pass check WTG for how close the razor is shaving. If you’re close to where you want to be, continue to march with that angle.  If there’s a significant amount of stubble, consider increasing the angle.  If you’re feeling irritation, reduce the angle.

Make one more WTG pass to confirm your angle. The author’s ideal angle with the Rolls seems to be with the flat of the blade raised just slightly more than the width of the spine of the blade off of his face.

Shaving Passes

The author’s current shave regime generally involves four passes plus cleanup under his neck and on the jaw line.  Rather than worry about “with the grain” or “against the grain,” the author makes a pass from the top down (north to south) which is mostly WTG, a mostly XTG pass from “east to west” (i.e. from the left side to the right), a mostly ATG pass from west to east, and another XTG from south to north.  If necessary (or time permitting, or just because he wants to) the author will add some ATG work in the “trouble spots” that contain stubble after the requisite passes.  Note that there is little or no irritation even after all of these passes.  Ensure that you’re using adequate lather and water, and no more than minimal pressure on the razor.

If you find the razor jumping around on the ATG passes, it may not be quite sharp enough. Try another shave before you go back to the drawing board though.

Post Shave

The author concludes his shave with a hot water rinse followed by a cold water rinse and the application of alum.  While the alum is sitting on his face, the razor is cleaned and dried and brush and mug are rinsed and put away.

The blade is removed from the handle and the handle set aside.  The author dries the blade with a tissue or towel and then blows in the hole on the back of blade to remove any water built up.  The blade is then installed in the case and stropped for about 15 seconds at the rate of about 2 complete strokes per second, to dry the edge. Once that has been accomplished the author dries the handle and stows it along with the extra blade within the case.  The hone may then be replaced and the outside of the razor wiped down.

It takes longer to write or read these steps than it does to perform them.  They are important. As the Rolls Razor company said: “Rust Ruins Razors.”

Once the razor and other gear are secured, the author removes the alum from his face with cold water, dries his face and applies the after-shave product of the day.  All in all, start to finish, including a shower, the author expends about 30 minutes in this routine.

The Blade’s Starting to Pull

If your shave is not where you’d like it to be, and you’ve worked with the angle, or if you’ve got your technique down but the blade is starting to pull, it’s most likely time to hone the blade.  You can do this inside the case on the original hone, on your straight honing gear, or on a home-made case hone.

There are a couple of differences between stropping and honing your blade.  When stropping, it seems to work best at about two complete passes per second.  Additionally, the blade is pulled across the strop with its edge trailing.  Honing is almost entirely opposite.  The blade is pulled across the hone edge first. The honing passes are rather gentle and quiet compared to the mechanical “thwapping” of stropping. In fact, running the razor full-speed on the hone may cause damage to either the stone or your blade.

When you’re ready to hone, make about seven complete passes and then use the four-way stropping precedure discussed elsewhere in this series or on the Badger and Blade WIKI. Then, before your shave for the first time, follow your normal stropping regime.

Best of luck with your Rolls Razor!


Echo4Golf Clear

Rolls Renovation Part II — Blade, Hone, and Reassembly

Most, of not all of the reviews of the Rolls from non-Rolls users, indicate that the shave is less than optimal; this generally along with some confusion as to why the razor sold so well for so long. The problem is that the blade has been dulled by years of use and abuse as it sat around in the humidity, banged around in boxes and drawers, and generally lay forgotten. The trick is to prepare the blade outside of the case, treating it something like a straight razor. You can do this yourself, or if you hit Badger and Blade and ask around, you might find someone to do it for a reasonable fee.

It needn’t cost a lot of money to prepare your blade either. The author, a woodworker, has in the shop a three way sharpening set with a silicon carbide (course) and two Arkansas stones (medium and fine). (Similar to this, although Rockler tends to be pricey.) The only purchases required for this project were a flat honing surface, (a home depot marble tile for less than $10, and some fiber-optic lapping media (, less than $2 per sheet. Watch the shipping). The author uses 5µ (micron), 3µ, 1µ, and recently purchased a couple of sheets of .3µ for experimental purposes.

Preparing and Honing the Blade

Choosing a blade to hone

The author is fortunate to have a small “parts bin” with a number of blades in it, so the first step was to choose a couple of good examples to work with. The Rolls blade is not quite a simple as it looks.  There are actually three pieces, the guard, a small ball bearing, and the blade proper.

blade selection

Blade selection. A couple don’t have the ball bearings and the one top left one has quite a smile from where the author learned not to go to far on the silicon carbide stone. The one top center has a chip out of the center. Both appear to be candidates for “butter knifing” but are beyond the scope of this project.



The author forgot about this one at first. It’s a decent candidate despite the discoloration on the edge. The stones will take that right off.

Setting the Bevel

The first step is setting the bevel, that is getting an even cutting edge can be successfully refined to a razor’s edge. For this process, the author chose a course Silicon Carbide stone.


  • Carefully disassemble the blade. Pry the guard from one side or the other. Note the location of the ball bearing and either remove it or tape it in. The ball bearing keeps the guard on one side or other of the blade edge. The razor will still function without it, but the author prefers having it installed.
  • Clean the blade with soap, water, and steel wool if necessary.  It’s best to clean it before you hone it.
  • Tape out the spine of the blade ensuring that the tape is the same thickness on both sides. The author found one thickness of tape sufficient.
Setting the bevel.

Make sure that your stones are a flat as you can get them.  This probably won’t be an issue with your Arkansas stones, unless they’ve seen a lot of action. Your SiC stone is fairly soft though, and may need some lapping. You can lap it on sandpaper on your tile.  There are many articles about this process, and they take longer to read than to do. Just make sure you’re working on a flat surface!)

  • Make 40 or so passes (back and forth equals one complete pass) on the course SiC stone using a fairly firm pressure to set the bevel. Rotate the blade 180 degrees after each pass.  The author works the blade both ways, as opposed to only against the edge at this point.
  • Make an additional 20 or so passes gradually decreasing the pressure. It’s time to move on when the scratching from the SiC stone is even on both sides and the edge is straight and even.  Don’t worry too much if the edge looks rough as the next steps refine it. Note that a loupe can be handy here, but a magnifying glass may suffice. The author uses a the 7x and 10x from a cheap Harbor Freight set. (
  • Repeat the process on the Arkansas medium and the fine. Keep the stones oiled and wipe the scarf periodically. Work each stone until the scratching from the last stone has been removed, and the scratching from the current stone is even.
  • Moving on to the lapping film, the author used 5µ, 3µ, 1µ on the marble tile. Again, work each sheet until there are even scratches and then about 20 complete stokes with gradually decreasing force.
  • You’re not done with a step in the progression if some of the scratches are larger and deeper than others. Uniformity is the key here! Take your time and get a consistent edge before moving on.
Lapping media on a marble tile.

Water on the tile holds the lapping media and water on the medium to add a bit of lubrication.

Lapping media on a marble tile.

Lapping media on a marble tile.

Ready for the strop

This pic needs replaces, but here is the blade ready to strop. Note that the edge is even and clean. It’s got close to a mirror edge at this point, and will easily cut arm hair.

  • Once the blade is through the lapping media, it will be wonderfully sharp and ready to be refined on the strop. The author uses a Rolls Razor strop painted with Chromium Oxide green paint to start that process.
  • At this point go ahead and put the guard back on the blade. It’s better to do it now rather than stropping without the guard as the little ball bearing in the side of the blade will likely fall out otherwise.
  • Do not work with the edge facing your hand! Set the 2-pin side of the guard into the side of the blade opposite the bearing and then clip the other side. Be careful. It’s better to push from the back of the blade with the guard sitting on something. It will click right in.

The author uses a spare strop that is painted in Chromium Oxide. Although the CrOX tends to create a rather harsh shave if used alone, it really polishes up the edge noticeably.   I then take the actual strop for the razor and add a bit of Ferric Oxide power. Be warned: a little bit goes a long way and too much gets all over the place very quickly! I work it into the leather addiing a little bit of Fromm’s if necessary. Once it’s worked in and the excess is removed, using the 4-way technique, I strop the blade again, this time on the FeOx, and only for about 30-45 seconds a side.


  • Mount the CrOx strop in your razor. Make sure the strop is not mounted in the hone side.  Stropping should drag the blade across the strop with the edge trailing.
  • Mount the blade.
  • At this point the author uses the “4-way” stropping system described in the Badger and Blade ShaveWIKI. Run the blade for one minute, making about 2 complete back and forth passes per second.  Turn the razor case 180 degrees (reverse it in your hand) and run the blade for another minute at the same rate.  This time flip the blade and repeat. The revers the razor again and repeat a fourth time.  That means that you’ll be on the Crox for about 4 minutes. The procedure might be a touch of overkill but it compensates for any odd angles put on the razor while you’re stropping. It also polishes the edge beautifully.  You shouldn’t see much in the way of scratching at this point.
  • The edge created by the CoOx is shavable and, in fact, preferred by many straight razor users. But on the advice of MJClark on B&B the author discovered that he prefers a blade stropped on Iron Oxide (FeOx). The general consensus is that it is much less harsh. It also appears that the original Rolls stropping compound was FeOx based.
FeOx Strop

Here is the FeOx powder ready to work into the leather. Very little is needed. FeOx is used as a pigment and will stain you, your counter top, or just about anything it contacts. Work the powder into the leather while wearing a glove (or even a baggie) on your hand.

  • Mount your reconditioned strop in the case. Apply FeOx powder. See photo, you don’t need much at all. Remember, FeOX ground this fine is a pigment and will stain any porous surface that it contacts. Wear gloves or a baggie over your hand and don’t overdo the application. Too much will impede your stropping process.
  • Ensure that you’ve mounted the strop so that the blade is stropping (edge trailing).
  • Repeat the 4 way stropping process.

At this point your blade should be shave ready. It’s just about time to reassemble the unit and try it out. If you want to do that, skip the next section as it can be done any time.

Reconditioning Your Hone

Restoring a whole stock hone is a fairly simple task, consisting of light scraping, cleaning, and perhaps lapping. They are pretty fragile things and it’s difficult to remove them from the holder without snapping them in two. Rolls Razor did at one point provide replacements, but they seem to be few and far between these days.  The author has found that it’s best to limit work on an existing hone to the cleaning that can be done without removal. This can be done pretty efficiently with soap, water, and a simple Nylon toothbrush or weapon cleaning brush.

Replacing a Broken Hone

One of the most common issues with a Rolls in the wild or on eBay is a missing or broken hone.  Apparently they can be repaired, and this is on your author’s to-do list at some point (see this Straight Razor Place article on restoring a broken hone:

As a stop gap or, if you prefer, to create MJClark’s “21st Century Rolls Razor,” try this: create you’re own lapping film holder.


  • Take a piece of 1/8″ luan or similar soft material.  It should be about the same thickness as the holder.
  • Use the holder to trace a pattern on your material.
  • Cut just inside your line.
  • Sand as necessary to fit your holder into the lid.
  • You need it to sit flat, so make sure the lid is complete clean before installing, and make sure the holder sits fairly tightly into the lid piece.
  • Cut a piece of lapping media to fit the holder and attach.
  • The author has cut the lapping media a bit long so that it can be installed by clamping it under one edge of the razor, against the luan holder and then closing and latching the razor on the other end.  It works well enough but it’s a bit of a pain to change out. (see below).  In the next iteration, the author intends to make two or three holders and attach a piece of lapping media from each of the final steps in the progression. Rubber cement may be the answer as it can be kept even with minimal effort and is removable.
fake hone 3

The luan is cut to size and inserted in the lid.


fake hone 4

A piece of lapping media is being placed on the luan and secured under the edge of the lid.


Friction clip assembly re-installed

The lid is closed with the lapping film secured under both ends.


 Honing Your Razor

While stropping is done with the edge trailing at about two complete back and forth strokes per second, hone is different. In fact, honing at the same speed as stropping will damage your hone and blade. Hone at that speed on the lapping media will destroy it as well. The entire process takes about 15 minutes, maybe a couple of more if you’re using multiple steps of lapping media.


  • Remove the stropping lid, any extra blade, and the blade handle.
  • Make about 7 gentle and complete back and forth passes on the hone.
  • The friction clip assembly will take care of keeping the proper tension on the blade. Concentrate on keeping your strokes even.
  • If you’re working through a couple of steps of lapping media, repeat as necessary.
  • Strop the blade using the four way technique.  If you use the CrOx strop, don’t forget to use the FeOx.
  • Done.  Strop as normal before your first shave.

Reassemble the Razor

  • Re-assemble the friction clip assembly if you haven’t already done so.  Ensure that the blade holder post is rotated 90 degrees after assembly so that it will ride in the groove on the brass shaft.
  • Install the friction clip assembly by snapping it back over the brass shaft. Start at either end of the clip and then line up the razor holder post properly. Once it’s aligned, snap the clip all the way on.  It will go right in if the post is properly aligned.
Ready to re-assemble the case.

Wipe the case down and ensure it’s dry prior to re-assembly.


Friction clip assembly re-installed

Here’s a case with the post and butterfly spring clipped back on. The post rides in the groove in the middle. You can just see it up in there. There’s still some cleaning to do on top of the running gears and where the lid clips in.



  • Wipe the case and lids down.
  • Ensure they are completely dry.
  • Verify that you’ve got the hone installed in the correct holder. (It’s the one with the Whetter.)
  • Verify that you’ve got the strop installed in the correct holder. (You guessed it: it’s the one without the Whetter!)
  • Install the reassembles blade on the post
  • Place the handle with the blade holder end either over the end of the stropping handle or in the recess in the side on top of the running gear.  If you have a spare blade in a box or holder, it fits inside the stropping handle and the blade holder in the latter position.

Done! Now you’re ready to give it a test run!  If the blade is not right you can try stropping it some more or you back up a bit in your progression. Remember, you’re not done with a step in the progression if some of the scratches are larger and deeper than others. Uniformity is the key!

Next: Shaving with your Rolls Razor

Echo4Golf Clear


Rolls Renovation Part I — Disassembly, Case and Strop


The author’s Rolls Razor showing the assembled razor sitting on top of the detached hone as well as a spare blade in its bakelite case.


The author’s first Rolls Razor article dealt with what to look for when searching for a Rolls Razor in the wilds of your local antique store or on eBay. Well, now that you’ve successful stalked and trapped your Rolls it’s time to get it ready for your first shave. If you’ve managed to acquire a “new old stock” model you may be ready to go out of the box, but as with a brand new straight, you may still need to do some work on the blade. A dull blade will ruin your shaving experience. In fact, this is the complaint about the Rolls that I see most often. A sharp blade in a Rolls will give you a very nice, close, comfortable shave, every time. If you are at that point, you may want to skip to the next in this series as it deals with the blade.

In this article, the author shares restoration methodologies for the case, internal mechanism, and strop. The pictures are from the Rolls units that the author prepared for a “PIF” on Badger and blade. Reports from one owner indicate some good shaving experiences with the new addition to his stable. Reports from the other indicate that the blade needed more work but that’s another subject.

The restoration process is pretty simple. You’ll need some fairly common supplies in addition to your razor. Both of the sets in this example were simple nickle-plated or stainless Imperial models with the “key” pattern on the lids.  If your razor has black tarnish on it, you might want to see if it’s silver.  If that’s the case you’ll want to use silver-specific cleaning methods on the case.  Likewise if it’s gold-plated, or has a pebble pattern on the lids.

Materials / Tool List

Cleaning Supplies

  • Ultrasonic Cleaner (optional, but nice)
  • Dish soap
  • Steel wool pad
  • Toothbrush
  • Degreaser (I actually used Hoppes bore cleaner this time as it’s what I had.  You’re going to scrub and rinse what-ever you use off with soap and hot water, so make sure it’s not too resistant to that treatment!
  • Q-tips
  • Rags and / or paper towels

For the strop

  • Strop Treatment (I use Fromms, but Phil Scott-Smith’s Shave-WIKI article on the Rolls suggests that lubriderm lotion will work just as well.)
    FeOx for the strop
    The Author’s “life-time” (1 ounce) supply of Red Iron Oxide (FeOx). This was purchased from an eBay vendor for $1.25 in 2014. You want to look for a fine particle size. This was was sold as 325 mesh.
  • Spare strop painted with Chromium Oxide (“CrOx”)
  • You can also use a piece of luan and put CrOx on one side and FeOx on the other.
  • Iron oxide paste or powder (A little goes a long way. I got a lifetime supply from an eBay vendor.  You could also try this, but I have no experience with it)
  • 320-400 grit sandpaper
  • For the Case
  • Vasoline

For the Blade

  • Honing gear.
  • Lapping media
  • Granite or marble block or tile (for the lapping media)

On the right is the author’s “parts bin.” You can sometimes find incomplete Rolls units for very little money. For this project, the author created two working Rolls Razors out of the parts bin.  The limiting factor in creating more than two razors were the number of handles and hones in the bin. Hones can actually be restored and the author intends to give the instructions in this article a try.

Case, Stropping / Honing Gear, and Blade Retainer

The process starts with the dis-assembly of the case. Remove the blade, handle, and both lids.  Set those parts aside for now and start with the case. Next is the removal of the friction clip unit, including the blade holder (post) and butterfly spring from the brass shaft. This is not difficult, but be careful as it’s possible to break the butterfly spring if you don’t pay attention.


  • Do not try to unscrew the post that holds the blade (blade holder).
  • DO NOT PRY on the WINGS of the BUTTERFLY SPRING!!! THEY WILL BREAK! This will cause you to curse.
Ready case

Start with the case and stropping handle with blade retainer (post and butterfly spring) attached.



Friction sleeve removal


  • Start the friction sleeve off with a small screw-driver.  Note that the butterfly spring would normally still be attached at this point. It’s removed to show the orientation of the blade holder, which rides in the groove on the brass shaft when properly assembled.


Friction clip assembly

Here, the friction clip unit has been removed and is ready for further dis-assembly.In this case the blade holder post has been rotated 90 degrees and is ready for removal from behind. The broken butterfly spring was most likely caused by attempting to pry the one side up to better engage the blade.



Friction clip unit disassembled.

The friction clip unit has been disassembled and ready to clean.


  • Remove the soap scum, rust, grease, or other corrosion with the appropriate cleaner.
  • The author started with soap and water, and then the ultrasonic cleaners.
  • Steel wool takes care of any rust or challenging corrosion.

Inside the friction clip

  • Inside the friction clip is a piece of leather that regulates the friction while stropping and honing. Remove any excess grease.



Stropping handle with the post and butterfly spring removed. When the blade post is properly installed in the friction clip and mounted, it rides in the groove on the brass shaft.


  • Clean the shaft with degreaser if necessary.  It should not show excessive lubricant when the razor is in use as this will reduce the friction created by the friction clip.
  • Once you’ve got the friction clip assembly cleaned up, reassemble it by reversing the dis-assembly procedure and set it aside.  Don’t put it back on the case yet.
  • Clean the outside of the case with the appropriate cleaner. Once again, a bit of steel wool will do wonders. The whole case wouldn’t fit the author’s ultrasonic unit, so it was done half at a time.


  • Clean the inside of the case, with degreaser and Q-tips. Apply a slight bit of petroleum jelly to the gears with a clean Q-tip.
  • Dry the case thoroughly prior to proceeding. Rolls Razor notes time and time again that “Rust Ruins Razors.”
  • That’s no reason to be shy of water during this process. Just make sure it’s dry before you reassemble the razor.
  • The author set the cleaned case on a heat while working on the other parts.

Reconditioning the Strop

This applies to the leather strops only. On later razors, the strop was cork (?) with an Iron Oxide stropping compound.  If this is the case with the razor you’re working on, it’s probably worth picking up a parts razor just for the strop.

Strop Selection

Both of these strops, shown already scraped and sanded, were easily restored. The top was easier as it was in better good condition to start. The bottom one looks to be in worse condition that it is. The blade is only stropped between the dark black lines, about an inch from the ends, so that’s that part of the strop that has to be usable.


  • Remove the strop from its lid.
  • The lid can go into the ultrsonic cleaner while you’re working on the strop and then be cleaned up prior to reassembly.
  • Scrape the strop with a piece of wood, butter knife (carefully!) or the like. Try to remove any solid detritus but be careful of slashes or nicks.  Don’t make them any worse.
  • Run a piece of 300-400 grit sandpaper lightly over the strop. Even out the top and gently open up the grain on the leather.
  • Apply a coat of strop conditioner. The author uses Fromms, but reports indicate that lubriderm skin lotion works as well.
Strops ready for the Fromm's

Here are the two strops scraped, sanded, and with the first application of Fromm’s ready to work into the leather.


Strops with conditioning cream applied.

Here is the first coat of Fromm’s worked into the leather. The author put another coat after a half hour or so and then worked some FeOx powder into the strop when the blade was ready.


Next time: Part II, Blade preparation and Reassembly

Echo4Golf Clear!



Evil Black Rifle: Sweetheart, I’m afraid it might be a Marine thing.

Mary (SWMBO): “why on earth do you need a bayonet?”

Me: Ummmm.

This coversation, which started with: “guess what I bought?” happened this weekend.  It’s a long story but the short version is that I’m excited! I took some birthday money and bought one of these:



OK, it’s a cheap imported look-alike, but I don’t really envision having to use it. At least I hope not.  In any case I picked it up today and it’s pretty hefty.  In fact, it’s huge! I’ll have to give it a closer look but I’m not unhappy.

So, I’ve got an Palmetto State M-4gery with a 16 inch barrel.  For those of you who don’t speak black rifle, it’s a civilian version of the M-4 carbine version of the AR-15 / M-16 platform. The M-4 actually has a 14″ barrel, I believe, but to make this one legal for sale, it’s got a 16″ one.  Mine also has the m-4 style telescoping stock.  I’m not sure whether I like the stock or not and the barrel is OK, I guess. I would have preferred a full sized AR-15 with the20″ barrel and regular stock but this one was considerably less expensive.  An issue with the civilian M-4gery is that despite the bayonet lug, you can’t actually mount a bayonet correctly on one. The m-9 bayonet has a hole on one side of the guard that’s supposed to slide over the flash supressor of an AR and stabilize the knife.  On the civilian version of the rifle the guard winds up on the barrel rather than the suppressor and this leaves maybe 1/16″ of an inch for the bayonet to wobble.  A couple of companies have come up with solutions including bolt-on bayonet lugs, and barrel sleeves that slide on just behind the flash supressor but I like neither of those solutions.

Enter “Triple-R” products and their AR15 BAYONET ADAPTER. I’ll have to see whether I like it on the rifle, but it puts the whole knife where it belongs, and might even resolve the stability issues. I’ll post a review once I try it out.



Echo4Golf clear.